October 19, 2017

Alaska attorney Heather Kendall-Miller to receive ABA 2018 Spirit of Excellence Award

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2018 — The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession will honor Heather Kendall-Miller, an Alaska Native (Athabascan) and a senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund in Anchorage, with its 2018 Spirit of Excellence Award for her commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. The award will be presented during a ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

“One of this nation’s most respected Native American attorneys, Heather Kendall-Miller has overcome great adversity and has gone on to lead a career promoting justice for native communities in Alaska and throughout the United States,” said Will Gunn, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. “At the same time, she has helped those coming behind her by hiring, mentoring and inspiring law students and early-career attorneys from diverse backgrounds.”

Kendall-Miller is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has dedicated her career to public service.  She was a law clerk at the Alaska Supreme Court and then served as a Skadden Fellow, where she worked as a staff attorney for the Alaska Legal Services Corporation representing indigent clients in court and in administrative hearings. During the second year of her fellowship, she worked for the Native American Rights Fund, where she continues her groundbreaking work.

With more than 25 years practicing in federal and state courts, Kendall-Miller has established foundational legal principles protecting Native American subsistence, tribal sovereignty and human rights. Her activities outside the law include board memberships with the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the Wilderness Society, the Alaska Native Justice Center, the Social Justice Fund, the Honoring Nations Governing Board and the Conservation Foundation. In addition, she serves on the Alaska Supreme Court Committee on Fairness and Access to the Judicial System and as liaison to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A photo of Kendall-Miller is available for download here.

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